Imágenes de páginas

she candidly confesses that her scheme is copied, and which her own diagrams very closely resemble.

" The following is the Diagram.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is thus explained.--A Convention was entered into, in Egypt, between General Kleber, on the part of the French, and the Grand Vizier, on the part of the Sublime Porte, which was approved by the Cabinet of London. The straight line, with the Crescent on its top, denotes the Grand Vizier, by its superior height to the perpendicular line, which is to represent General Kleber: the line drawn through the centre of this line, forming two acute angles, is intended for the General's sword. To denote the Convention, two lines are drawn, which meet together in the centre, and represent the shaking of hands, or a meeting. The Convention was formed in Egypt, which is signified by a Pyramid. The Cabinet of London is typified by the outline of a Cabinet on the right of the diagram. The Head of a Ship, placed in the square, denotes London, as it is frequented by ships more than any other port.'-Preface.

Our readers will judge, from this specimen, of the beauty and perspicuity of Mrs. Rundall's method of teaching history, and will join with us in wondering that the vanity of book-making can have blinded any human being to the laborious absurdity, the monstrous inconsistency of these . Historical Hieroglyphics.

ART. VII.--The Monarchy according to the Charter, by the

Vicomte de Chateaubriand, &C.-London.-pp. 252.
HIS is the translation of a very important work-important

not only on account of the subjects it treats and the abilities with which it was written, but on account of the persecution which, together with the author, it has suffered from the soi-disant constitutional ministers of France; which may be considered as an indication of their views and a test of their principles. If any thing that happens in France could surprise us, we should be astonished at seeing ministers affecting to be, par excellence, the friends of the Charter and the constitution, taking the most arbitrary, the most illegal, the most furious and insane measures against a work which, though itopposes them individually, is, from the title to the colophon,

a defence of the Charter and a panegyric on the constitution. If M. de Chateaubriand's work had been of a different complexion; if it had been, as we have heard it called by those who had neither read nor even seen it, an ultra-royalist, anti-constitutional pamphlet, preaching up persecution and the old régime, it would have been very proper to persecute it; it might even have been proper, if it had been censured by the tribunals, to have afflicted some mark of the royal displeasure upon the author: but that, without judge or jury, without complaint, without trial, the police should confiscate the work, should put seals on the printer's presses, and actually shut up the shops of some booksellers to whose counters a few copies had been sent before the seizure, seems to us to decide the temper and spirit of this ministry, and we have no hesitation in şaying, that with all their affected regard for the chamber and the constitution, this intemperate, illegal, and foolish step proves them to be as unsound in their principles as in their judgments: the matter and the manner of the proceeding are alike reprehensible, and they have done a thing which renders them odious for its violence and ridiculous for its impotence.

But this is not all—the chamber of deputies was to be dissolved: and to strike terror into the ultra-royalist party, to which they supposed M. de Chateaubriand to belong, because he opposed the infra-royalist party, they had recourse to a measure, desperate to be sure in point of character, but safe and easy enough as far as regarded their persons, and recommended to them perhaps by this double consideration, of advising the King of France to erase the name of M. de Chateaubriand from the list of his privy council.

We beg leave here to take a distinction, well understood in England and strongly inculcated by M. de Chateaubriand, that in a constitutional monarchy the acts of the king are never personal to him; but should be treated as they really are, as the measures of his responsible advisers: with the most sincere respect and confia, dence in the King of France, therefore, with the greatest esteem for his excellent qualities, his good sense and correct taste, his justice and his clemency, we must be allowed to say that a more violent, oppressive, and impolitic measure than this we cannot well conceive; it is only to be equalled by some of those ever-to-be-regretted compliances by which Louis XVI, in the first days of the Revolution, interdicted his friends from his person and service, and sought a fatal and short-lived popularity in the councils of his enemies.

If we had been asked what was most needful for France, what principle it was on which the stability of the legitimate government most depended, and which it would probably be the most difficult to find, we should have said FIDELITY ; twenty-five years of revoer lution, with a new constitution every year;-monarchy, democracy, oligarchy, consulate, dictatorship, empire, monarchy-and empire, republic, and monarchy again-have so unsettled men's minds, have so scattered their principles, have involved such multitudes in weaknesses and crimes, in inconsistencies and perjury, that of all virtues that of Abdiel would be, we should have thought, the most prized.

• Abdiel faithful found,
Among the faithless faithful only he ;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified ;
His loyalty he kept, his love, bis zeal;
Nor number, nor example with him wrought

To swerve from truth or change his constant mind.' M. de Chateaubriand followed the King into exile. Who at that hour thought that the King was so soon to return? At Ghent his grateful sovereign called him to his privy council-he advised with him in his adversity--the battle of Waterloo miraculously restored the King to his throne; M. de Chateaubriand, still faithful, attends the King in his restoration as he did in exile, but with a different fate; at Paris he is stricken out of the council to which he had been summoned at Ghent--and by whose advice is this done ?--not, we hope and believe, by that of the Duke of Richelieu, an emigrant of the old school, nor by M. Lainé or the Duke of Feltré, emigrants during the last usurpation, and who all three are looked upon as attached with equal sincerity to the king and constitution, and whose characters are, indeed, the only support which the present ministry possesses ; but, if we may believe the public report of France and England, by that of M. de Caze, a young gentleman who had been secretary to her Imperial Majesty Madame the mother of all the Bonapartes, and who did not follow his legitimate sovereign into his exile.

And for what offence is M. de Chateaubriand thus delivered over into the hands of M. de Caze ?-for publishing, as a minister of state, the same sentiments which his sovereign had applauded in council at Ghent-for publishing, as a peer of France, an address to the country, the most temperate, the most just, the most liberal, the most constitutional, the most ably and heartily favourable to the strict maintenance of the Charter, the rights and liberties of France, of any publication we have yet had the good fortune to see.

We declare we have not found one single principle, we had almost said one single expression, in this able production which might not have been advanced by an English whig of the best days of our constitution; and if any doubt, as we perused this work, rose in our minds as to the expediency of his advice, it was, whe

ther France was yet fit for a system of government so liberal, so free, so British, as that which M. de Chateaubriand recommends.

A short summary and a few extracts from his work will speak more forcibly to the understandings of our readers than any general assertions.

M. de Chateaubriand begins by stating that under the legitimate sovereign of France there are but three possible modes of government which could be thought of :

1. The old régime.
2. A despotism.

3. Constitutional monarchy under the Charter. 1. The old régime he declares to be impracticable, and, if practicable, impolitic.

2. The supposition of a despotism he dismisses at once, as alike ridiculous and detestable,

3. And he therefore assumes, as the foundation and basis of all his political opinions, that France must stand or fall by the Charter; and he claims, with great zeal and eloquence, the Charter and nothing but the Charter-(pp. 2 and 3.)--the essence of which he justly states to be a representative government by king, peers, and the deputies of the people.

He then proceeds to state the principles that flow from this representative system : the first is the entire irresponsibility of the King, and the entire responsibility of his ministers. This is the part of his doctrine for which ostensibly he has been punished; because he is accused of raising doubts as to the King's private sentiments, as if in a constitutional monarchy the King could have any private sentiments, and as if it was a crime to see in the acts done in his name the measures of his ministers. But let us hear how this furious and illiberal ultra expresses himself on this point.

• The doctrine of a constitutional royal prerogative is--that nothing is done directly by the King himself; that every act of government is in truth his ministers,' though the thing be done in his Majesty's name, or the document signed by his Majesty's hand.

• Laws proposed-ordonnances--choice of men and of measures--for all these, Ministers alone are responsible.

• The King of a representative monarchy is, as it were, a divinity, placed beyond our reach, inviolable and infallible. His person is sacred, and his will can do no wrong. If there be error, it is the error of his servants.

We may therefore discuss public affairs without offence to the Monarch, and we may criticise measures which, though in his name, are the mere acts of bis Ministers.'

As a result from these principles, M. de Chateaubriand is led to


disapprove of the power of proposing laws being exclusively vested in the King, and denied to both houses of legislature ; for it seems that the King alone can initiate a law, and the Chambers are to discuss it; they may amend it indeed, but they must only amend it, --for if their amendments should chance to run into any thing like an original proposition, they must be rejected as contrary to order and the Charter. M. de Chateaubriand invocates for his country the practice of the British constitution; he wishes the initiative to be given to the Chambers, at least, in common with the Crown; and he deprecates, as injurious to the rights of the people, the form of absolute authority in which the King pow proposes his laws.

All this is very true; and yet we are disposed to doubt the expediency of adopting Chateaubriand's advice at present. France is far from being in a state of established tranquillity; the diet that is wholesome for a robust and healthy person is pot fit for a weak Convalescent, and that which suits England in her present state may not be exactly the properest regimen for France in hers. We cannot forget the rage for law-making (it ought not to be called legislation) which the French Representative Chambers exhibited; the Constituent assembly sat about 29 months, and passed 3488 laws; but the Legislative Body far exceeded its predecessors in activity, for in 11 months it passed 5414 laws; and we believe that of the aggregate 8902 laws, not one hundred exist at this day. M. de Chateaubriand is aware of this objection, and answers it by stating that times are changed, and that the rage of law-making is gone by. We are not quite satisfied of this, and we should fear that to give the power would be to excite once ntore, in his volatile countrymen, the desire of indiscriminate legislation. But besides this, there is another reason in favour of the present practice it is sanctioned by the Charter--and even on the clearest and most popular grounds we should think it unadviseable to depart from that document in the minutest particular: by and bye it may be done with safety, by the hand experience; at present it is better to bear some inconvenience than to shake the foundation of the whole political edifice.

The boldness and freedom with which M. de Chateaubriand claims for France the principles of the British system of government are, it seems, too constitutional; and he is therefore obliged to devote a chapter to answer the objections of those who accuse him-for he is accused on all sides

of being too democraticalthis he does in the following manner.

• It will be asked, “ Is the King then, in a representative government, a mere idol ?--an image which we adore, but which has neither motion nor power ?

- There is the mistake. The King, in such a monarchy, is more absolute than any monarch of France has been before him; more power

« AnteriorContinuar »